Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller made a quick visit on Friday to the Somalia capital Mogadhsu accompanied by the Africom Commander, U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend. The trip, the first by an American Defense Secretary which was not announced in advance, was confirmed in separate releases from the Defense Department and the U.S. Africa Command. Miller, who was put in the post on November 9 after President Trump fired his predecessor in a post-election Pentagon reshuffle, is said to be planning to remove the approximately 700 U.S. troops currently assigned to the east African nation.
The visit by the two top-level officials follows a report by the New York Times that a CIA officer, who was part of the paramilitary forces combating al-Shabab in Somalia, was killed in a counterterorism operation in recent days. In a recent Quincy Institute examination of a five-year expansion of U.S. military activity in Somalia, Elizabeth Shackelford concludes: “The current military-led strategy promises no end to lethal interventions, and the costs and risks associated with it exceed the threats it is meant to address.”